According to an article from Die Welt the Federal Minister of Food, Christian Schmidt (CSU) rejects a tax on sugary drinks on the model of the one announced by the British Government on March 16 2016. The Ministry spokesperson reminded that previous tax attempts in the EU did not achieved the desired results, instead they have been very costly to implement and manage.
Detlef Groß, president of the German association for the non-alcoholic beverages, recognizes that «obesity is a complex phenomenon», one that cannot be stopped by a one-sided discriminatory tax on a single product category. Mr. Groß also reminded that soft drinks accounted for only a small part of the daily caloric intake as the the sector offers consumers a wide range of options, both with and without sugar.
The Ministry seems is on the same page as it states that taking action on soft drinks alone would be irrelevant; instead it envisions a holistic approach, stressing that people has to be convinced to pursue a healthy lifestyle, rather than forcing them to change their habits through legal constraints. According to the Ministry the key to healthy practices is in the school system which should educate and inform the population since childhood in order to foster “nutritional competence”. At the same time the Federal Government created a €2 millions research fund to study the reduction of salt, sugar and fat in processed food.
Please find the original article on Die Welt website.
The spokesman of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture mentioned in an article in Die Welt that: “Using punitive food and drinks taxes which generate political control of consumption and patronize the consumer, should be rejected.”
Penalty taxes for supposedly unhealthy foods usually bring no change to the diets of individuals. The Ministry highlighted that: “In November 2012, the Danish Government abolished the fat tax which had been introduced a year earlier on the grounds that the tax did not change dietary behaviour.”
Zucker-Fett-Steuer soll Fettleibigkeit eindämmen
Das Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft wiegelt ab: “Eine politische Steuerung des Konsums und Bevormundung der Verbraucher durch Strafsteuern lehnt das Ministerium ab”, teilte ein Sprecher mit.
Strafsteuern für vermeintlich ungesunde Lebensmittel änderten in der Regel nichts am Ernährungsverhalten der Menschen: “So hat beispielsweise die dänische Regierung im November 2012 ihre ein Jahr zuvor eingeführte Fettsteuer wieder abgeschafft, mit der Begründung, die Steuer habe das Ernährungsverhalten nicht verändert.”
Please see the article here: http://www.welt.de/gesundheit/article128257815/Zucker-Fett-Steuer-soll-Fettleibigkeit-eindaemmen.html
The total health effects of a ‘fat tax’ on the German population remain unclear according to research by leading German food and tax economist Dr. Silke Thiele, of the Department of Food Economics at the Univeristy of Kiel, Germany.
The research paper, entitled “Fat tax: a political measure to reduce overweight? The case of Germany” published in 2010 investigates the impact of substitutions of different food types due to a tax on saturated fat, taking into consideration food price elasticities for German households.
For low income households, decreases in energy and fat intake are small – but potentially effective. However, due to the collateral decrease of nutrients which Germans have a deficient supply of, the total health effects of a fat tax remain unclear. Additionally, low-income groups would bear higher welfare losses than higher income groups.
The paper concludes that following these results, and the fact that taxation is not an efficient means to reduce overweight, other means should be considered.
You can find the whole paper here, and find out more about Dr. Thiele and the Kiel Department of Food Economics here.
Claudia Wüstenhagen, writing in German daily Zeit investigates possible solutions in the context of Germans getting fatter.
The article contrasts the attempts by health experts’ PR campaigns against the marketing power of the food industry, and reviews the “naturally attractive” response of national governments – taxation.
However, the article promotes a holistic view – if taxation was an option, it would have to be one building block in a raft of policy efforts to address obesity – “a complex social problem with many causes”. There is little empirical evidence that a tax on sugar or fat actually make people eat ‘healthier’ which should be the end result. The fact that when a tax on saturated fat was introduced in Denmark, Danish consumers crossed the border to buy their groceries in Germany illustrates the complexity of not only eating, but purchasing habits that must be considered.
The education of children at an early age is important, and the article reports on a ‘nutritional driver’s licence’ scheme to educate children in schools – making healthy options available to children in schools is also a necessity if these lessons are to be put into practice.
The fact that modern society “promotes obesity” according to Anja Kroke, Professor of Public Health Nutrition from the University of Fulda is at the centre of the problem. Until a coherent set of policies is considered – access to sports facilities, ability to cycle, children watching television, subsidies for meat production – little will change.
Indeed, piecemeal attempts through taxation will not achieve any significant societal change.
You can read the full article here at zeit.de
Do taxes on certain foods really work to decrease obesity levels? Real-life models are proving this hard to stomach. For one, the Danish tax on saturated fat was abolished last November, and the Hungarian tax on salt, sugar and energy drinks is producing undesired effects. For example, Hungarians are simply buying cheaper snack foods, rather than switching to healthier products.
The discussion of such a tax is also big in Germany. The German Ministry of Consumer Affairs recognises the need to combat obesity, but Consumer Affairs Minister Ilse Aigner considers a tax on foods to be the wrong approach. It ‘doesn’t change consumer behaviour, but simply bolsters government treasuries,’ says a statement issued by the Ministry. A much better approach would be to increase the access to information through initiatives such as clearer labelling mechanisms.
The food industry agrees, and states that not only would the tax harm low-income households more than others, but that citizens need ‘better education, rather than just state-nannying’ to motivate them to change their eating habits.
The full article is available here.